|Mahashivaratri also called Shiva Ratri is the Great Festival of Shiva. It is held on the 14th day of the dark half of the lunar month of Phalguna.|
The day of Mahashivaratri is spent in meditation on Shiva and fasting . Temples dedicated to Shiva are filled with devotees offering prayers. The Shiva linga at the temple or in one's home is bathed with milk, honey and water, and offerings are made to Shiva in the form of Bilva leaves, fruits, and other specially prepared foods. Offering Bilva leaves to Shiva on Mahashivaratri is considered especially auspicious.
|The leaves, which are sacred to Shiva, fell on a Shiva linga that happened to be at the base of the tree. Shiva was pleased by the offering, inadvertant though it was, and saved the hunter. This event is commemorated on Mahashivaratri by staying up all night and offering Bilva leaves.|
According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri is the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. It is also believed that Lord Shiva performed ‘Tandava', the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction on this auspicious night of Shivaratri. According to another popular legend, described in Linga Purana, it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga for the first time. Since then, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by the devotees of Shiva and they celebrate it as Maha Shivaratri - the great night of Shiva.